Social housing: the Conservatives go back on their word

 David Cameron has signalled that secure tenancies in social housing – i.e. a house for life – may be a thing of the past. He says:

“At the moment we have a system very much where, if you get a council house or an affordable house, it is yours forever and in some cases people actually hand them down to their children.

“And actually it ought to be about need. Your need has got greater … and yet there isn’t really the opportunity to move.”

He added that he wanted “people to move through council housing rather than see it as something you get for life.”

Right or wrong, this is a direct contradiction of what the Tories promised before the election – and that was before they teamed up with the moderating influence of the Lib Dems.

In February I wrote a story based on a Labour Party leaflet saying that the Conservatives were interested in the ideas of Hammersmith and Fulham Council leader Stephen Greenhalgh and his plans to put social housing tenants on two months’ notice. Secure tenanceis, were under threat, it warned. Being a dutiful sort of reporter, I rang  CCHQ and asked for a reply. The speedy reply attributed to (then shadow housing minister) Grant Shapps read:

“These are unfounded and baseless scare tactics by an increasingly desperate Labour Party trying to frighten social tenants in an attempt to get them to vote Labour and shore up its disillusioned core vote.
“Conservatives recognise the importance of social housing and the security it provides. We will protect and respect the rights of social tenants. Many social tenants have great pride in their homes and the neighbourhood in which they live, and deserve to be encouraged.”

Shapps is now housing minister. Unless he distances himself from Cameron’s comments, it rather looks as though he has gone back on his word.

Needless to say, shadow housing minister John Healey (and minister at the time) is now saying he told you so.


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